The global campaign against environmental pollution resulting in global warming is causing stricter standards for fugitive emission around the world. With the US Clean Air Act of 1963, many countries around the world are following in the footstep of the US Environmental Protection Agency to set stringent regulations about fugitive Emissions generated by fluid flow industries. Affected companies are complying with the Leak Detection and Repair program (LDAR). Thus there has been an increase in valve emission compliance to ensure the bar of fugitive emissions limitation is raised to reduce the indiscriminate release of carbon footprint into the atmosphere. Recent efforts at improving the fight against greenhouse gas release into the atmosphere is evident in the tactics to replace the “R” or “Repair” in the acronym LDAR with proactive term focusing on valve design that causes low emissions called Low E and this is happening at the manufacturer level in the fight against fugitive emissions.

What is fugitive emissions and causes?

 The emission of vapors or gases from pressurized equipment as a result of leaks and other irregular or unintended releases of gases into the atmosphere, deemed as pollution, mostly from industrial activities is called fugitive emissions. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, fugitive emissions are defined as the unintended release of gaseous substances into the atmosphere from facilities or activities that couldn’t pass through the vent, chimney, stack or actively equivalent opening. In other words, when the fluid flow material channeled through a piping system escape due to leakage (albeit unintended) from such system into the environment, it is deemed fugitive emissions.

Fugitive emissions can leak from different sources including valves, seals, flange, sample connections, pressure relief, open-ended lines, or screw fittings. The various leak sources notwithstanding, valves account for a higher amount of industrial fugitive emissions, this brings to the question of choosing the right valve as a way to meet EPA and other regulatory agencies benchmark for an unintended release of fluid and gaseous matters into the atmosphere. It is noteworthy the contribution of valves in leakage issues in pipe connections, mechanical seals, and other valve based equipment.

Fugitive emissions and emission testing and control

Awareness of air pollution become popular in 1955when the air pollution control act was introduced. The act provided funds for government to research into air pollution and later, the 1963 Clean air act was followed aimed at improving and step up programs to prevent and reduce pollution; this effort got an amendment to the Clean Air Act of 1970 which broaden Clean Air program and set standards as well as prescribe measurement and tracking system for fugitive emissions.

Fugitive Emissions Packing Standards Understanding API 622 valves

API valve/packing emission testing

Curbing fugitive emissions assumed national and global dimensions with more interest gathering momentum with the expansion of stakeholders. At this time, the American Petroleum Institute (API) took more interest in reducing the release of unintended gaseous and fluid matters into the atmosphere and essentially came up with a definitive guiding standard on fugitive emission testing for the industry.

Three API valve/packing emission standards tests are common today

  1. API 622 Type Testing of Process Valve Packing for Fugitive Emissions
  2. API 624 Type Testing of Rising Stem Valves Equipped with Graphite Packing for Fugitive Emissions
  3. API 641 Type Testing of Quarter-turn Valve for Fugitive Emissions

First in the series of API testing standard is the API 622. Other API valve testing to control fugitive emissions are API 624 and API 641. Industry players are to familiarize with the valve testing control releases to key into global fugitive emissions control for a safer environment for everyone.